For the diagnosis of IgE-mediated (immediate) hypersensitivity to natural rubber latex (NRL), skin prick testing with extracts of latex gloves has been widely used, but such extracts are difficult to standardize. The present study aimed to produce on an industrial scale an NRL extract from freshly collected NRL and to evaluate, calibrate, and standardize the extract by both in vivo and in vitro testing. The source material, latex of the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis (clone RRIM 600), was frozen immediately after collection in Malaysia and shipped in dry ice to Stallergènes SA, France. Protein and allergen profiles were analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), immunoblotting, isoelectric focusing (IEF), crossed immunoelectrophoresis (CIE), and crossed radioimmunoelectrophoresis (CRIE). Allergen quantification was effected by RAST inhibition. The capacity of the preparation to elicit immediate hypersensitivity reactions in vivo was measured by skin prick testing in 46 latex-allergic patients and 76 nonallergic control subjects. SDS-PAGE and immunoblot profiles of the extract and an NRL standard (E8) provided by the US Food and Drug Administration were almost identical, disclosing several distinct IgE-binding proteins with apparent molecular weights of 14, 20, 27, 30, and 45 kDa, conforming to reported molecular weights of several significant NRL allergens. An arbitrary index of reactivity (IR) of 100 was assigned to the extract at 1:200 dilution (w/v), having a protein content of 22 micrograms/ml. Skin prick testing of latex-allergic patients and controls using the extract at 100 IR revealed 93% sensitivity, 100% specificity, 100% negative predictive value, and 96% positive predictive value. In conclusion, a skin prick test reagent for diagnosis of type I NRL allergy was successfully standardized. The reagent was demonstrated to contain most, if not all, of the currently known clinically significant NRL allergens, and it showed high sensitivity and specificity.
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